Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson urge Amnesty International not to decriminalise sex trade

Critics have likened the proposal to supporting 'gender apartheid'

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The Independent Online

A group of Hollywood stars, including Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson, have written an open letter to Amnesty International calling for them to reject a proposal that will endorse the decriminalisation of the sex trade.

Next month the human rights organisation will meet in Dublin to review its internal policy on sex work.

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) began a campaign against the change, and it has been signed by women’s right campaigners, former workers in the sex trade and celebrities including Emily Blunt, Lena Dunham and Anne Hathaway.

Amnesty’s justification for questioning their policy stems from evidence that criminalising adults for consensual sex work can lead to greater abuse against sex workers in the long term.

However campaigner Gloria Steinem said in a statement: "The millions who are prostituted experience trauma and shortened lives. Legalisation keeps pimps, brothel keepers, and sex-slavers in freedom and riches. Criminalisation puts the prostituted in prison."

She added that the alternative, known as the 'Nordic model', has been adopted in countries ike Canada, Sweden and Iceland and offers services and alternatives to prostitution while buyers are fined and educated.

CATW’s executive director Taina Bien-Aimé said that legalising the sex trade will have dire consequences across the world.

"A vote calling for legalising pimping would in effect support gender apartheid, in which some women in society can demand protection from rape, discrimination and sexual harassment, while others, the most vulnerable among us, are instead set aside for consumption by men and for the profit of their pimps."

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